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Workers prepare site for event center

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A crew with Enviromental Holdings Group works on the bell tower of Guiding Light Primitive Baptist Church on Wednesday as site work for the Rocky Mount Event Center and parking lot continues around it.

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By LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Construction of the Rocky Mount Event Center continues unabated, according to city officials.

The center, temporarily renamed the Downtown Community Facility, has bounced back to its original nomenclature, city officials confirmed Wednesday.

The project was conceived in such a way that work could begin on the foundation while engineers continue to plan the rest of the building, said Brad Kerr, the city's engineering director.

“They're moving a lot of dirt right now,” Kerr said. “It won't get real exciting until they start swinging steel.”

Demolition is complete and workers are installing erosion barriers and footing for the center's foundation, Kerr said.

The project is using a new engineering technology called geo piers in which stiff rock columns are drilled deep into the earth's surface, down to a hard non-yielding depth. Geo piers are used to support a building foundation and reinforce soil when the existing ground is soft, according to construction contractors.

The center is an indoor sports arena that will not only cater to sporting tournaments but also a multitude of other events and meetings. Officials say the center will set downtown apart as a destination location for sports, music and a host of other activities, attracting folks from across the state and up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

The center will be booked solid when it opens, said Dev Pathik, CEO of Sports Facilities Management, the Florida-based company that will maintain the building once it's built.

The center is expected to cost a total of $41 million, which includes land acquisition, issuance of debt, legal fees, pre-opening marketing costs, first-year operating costs and any remediation required on the facility site. Construction expenditures are not expected to exceed $32 million, with plans in place for some of the cost to be financed with New Market Tax Credits since a medical clinic will be included in the center.

Permits continue to be processed and Barnhill Grading is developing the entire site, according to posted updates on the city's website. The site promises a live webcam and photographs showing progress will be added soon.

Albemarle Street from E. Thomas Street to Goldleaf Street and Ivy Street from Atlantic Avenue to Albemarle Street have been closed during construction. Both streets should reopen when the project is finished. The center is set for completion in September 2018.

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